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Real Estate

Basic things an average investor should know about titling

Individual and institutional investors wishing to invest in real estate but lack knowledge of the market should worry no more as K.Parkwood Property’s Real Estate Investor Series (REIS) has offered and will continue to offer insights on the basic things such investors should know.

REIS is an initiative of K.Parkwood Property, a Lagos-based asset & portfolio management firm, aimed to help investors make informed decisions when acquiring real estate, and protect them from possible exploitation.

The maiden edition of REIS, which held last week in Lagos, focused on the significance of title document to investors. It highlighted a few basic things including knowing a good title;

According to Tosin Ajose, Partner at DealHQ Partners, any document irrespective of the name it bears, satisfies the legal requirement of the instrument or alienation is good title.

A title must be in writing, describes the parties involved, describes the subject property in details, indicates a valid tenure, have governor’s consent, and issued for consideration.

Governor’s consent and, more importantly, registration with land registry makes a title authentic.

Documents like receipt, will, letter of administration, lease and tenancy agreement, license, power of attorney, contract for sale, survey plan, deed of mortgage and excision (except if it is gazetted) are not titles.

Ownership interest

Ownership interest in property can be legal or equitable. Legal interest is recognized by law or statute, and grants true ownership as well as rights that comes with land ownership. Owner has exclusive possession of the property, as well as easement, conveyance and partition rights.

Equitable interest is recognized by law and enforceable only to the extent that there is no superior interest. The only condition that can make owner of equitable interest lose his/her property is when another person tenders a more powerful document of ownership.

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On excision

Excision, as explained by Olumide Osundolire, Partner at Banwo & Ighodalo, is a process whereby state releases a portion of land to the family or community from which the land was acquired.

Excision will be granted only if the land is not committed to a specific project. Also, proposed use must tally with the master plan of the state for the said area. Grant of excision is not totally guaranteed, and investors are advised not to undertake any transactions on the land till excision is granted.

Lawyer’s role in document preparation

A lawyer first has to confirm title to ensure no defect or encumbrances. He/she searches at the Land Registry and also checks other governmental offices such as Land Use Office to confirm the validity of the title. The lawyer drafts and perfects title documents before it is taken to the governor for approval.

Addressing title issues

Titling is still at primitive stage in Nigeria and other emerging markets compared. The process of titling needs to be simplified and the 30-day government consent regime should be enforced to lessen stress. urthermore, perfection costs needs to be moderated and the use of information technology is pertinent to better titling process.

Process of getting Governor’s consent

According to the Land Use Act, 1978, all land in a state is vested in the governor of that state, implying that any transfer of interest in a land requires the consent of the governor.

The Directorate of Land Services of the Lagos State Government Land Bureau is empowered to handle Governor’s consent to subsequent transactions on land among others.

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The requirements for Governor’s consent to subsequent transaction processing in the bureau, among others, include duly completed land form 1c with grantee’s photo; Certified True Copy (CTC) of root of title, deeds/instruments of transfer; passport photographs of the assignee, Certificate of Incorporation, site photographs with date and time, and applicants’ means of identification.

Matters relating to acquisition, revocation, compensation, rectification, valuation of land/building and land policy formulation are also handled by the bureau.

Registration

After getting governor’s consent on titles, the next step is to register them with the State Land Registry. Lagos State Land Registry is empowered to handle all land documents within the territory of the state.

Registering land documents can be done internally or externally. Internal process means that the Land Bureau directly forwards title documents to the registry. External process means owners of title documents bring them to the registry.

Documents firstly pass through the investigation unit at the registry to confirm the authenticity of the documents, and afterwards the registration unit, where unique numbers will be assigned.

The planning & indexing, depository, search, rectification and prerelease units have stake in the registration process.

Agencies and professionals involved in titling

Lagos State Land Bureau, Office of State Surveyor-General and Ministry of Justice are the agencies that handle titles in Lagos State.

Professionals such as estate surveyors and valuers, legal practitioners, land surveyors and town planners are involved in titling.

Source: By Israel Odubola

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